Lou Gerstner (Former IBM CEO) tells the story of an important meeting he had not long after becoming IBM’s CEO. It was the with the team building IBM’s, then the mainframe business. It was an important session because if that business continued to perform below the expectations, the face of the entire company would hang in the balance.
At that time company’s meetings were often run using a presentation system that was essentially a forerunner of PowerPoint, know in IBM vernacular at the time called as “Foils.” The person presenting knew his stuff but was essentially a forerunner a PowerPoint. The person presenting knew his stuff but was essentially repeating minute details already on the foil.
By the time the presenter got to the second slide, Gerstner had stood up, walked over to the projector, and – to the surprise of everyone in the room- turned it off! The screen went blank. The audience sat for a moment in a stunned silence, until Gerstner turned to IBM employees and said, “Let’s just talk about your business.” And they did.
News of the incident spread like the wildfire throughout the company. The point was clear – the chairman wanted a real discussion of the challenges that division faced, not a slide show. Honest discussion that followed with later helping to make a mission-critical decision for business. It wouldn’t have happened if Gerstner hadn’t challenged the status quo and clarity.
De-briefing the story
It’s too easy to hide behind content-laden presentations. Tell your story as simply as possible. Use visuals to back it up but not as the main event. Make it a point to have a real dialogue with people.
This story can be used to share the importance
1- Information overload
2- Analysis Paralysis
3- Death by Powerpoint
“The Power of Storytelling” by Jim Holtje